Goku: [laughing weakly] I... never really learned how to...
A character — good or evil, male or female, young or old — who never gives up. Ever. No matter what.
There is no stopping the Determinator. They do not understand tact. They do not Know When to Fold 'Em, and it's a waste of time to tell them the odds. No one can reason with them. They'll do whatever they have to without question. No price is too great to pay for success, up to and including their own life. Do not expect them to realize they might be better off letting it go, even if they can barely stand. If you're ever kidnapped or lost with no hope of rescue, they'll be the one who will find you. Their adversaries will shout, in exasperated rage, "Why Won't You Die?!". For them, there is no line between "perseverance" and "insanity."
The nobility of their goal is not necessarily proportionate to their persistence. This is just as often an obsessive rival with a grudge as it is a hero on a chivalrous quest, and where their willpower ultimately leads them will depend both on their role and on where the work stands on the Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism. Heroes — especially Badass Normals with a Screw Destiny attitude — will defeat villains by virtue of being too stubborn to stay down. Anti Heroes will Jump Off The Slippery Slope, forsake The Powers of Love and Friendship, become like that which they fight, and walk the thin line between victory and tragedy. Villains will refuse to admit defeat, resist seemingly fatal punishment, hunt their prey tirelessly and relentlessly, and let the heroes know that We Will Meet Again. And mailmen will always get your mail to you. More inhuman beings such as monsters or an Eldritch Abomination may just also be The Juggernaut, and this will present a serious problem for the heroes who may have to find some MacGuffin just to survive as it endlessly plows through everything and refuses to take a break.
Compare and contrast with Implacable Man (or woman)— while a Determinator pursues their goal through sheer willpower, the Implacable Man is driven by artificial, unnatural, or magical means, and often suffers no apparent damage at all.
Compare Suicidal Overconfidence, a common feature of many Video Game genres where enemies will always, blindly, and relentlessly be at your throat with no regard for how horribly you are massacring them (though this is more due to genre requirements than characterization). Compare Tragic Dream, where becoming a Determinator can only end in tears. Can be identified by their trademark Determined Expression.
- Anime & Manga
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- Real Life
- The Death of Koschei the Deathless: When his wife is kidnapped by Koschei, Prince Ivan proves he will stop at nothing to get her back. He remains determined to save her even after failing three times and getting killed by Koschei. After being brought back to life by his sorcerous brothers-in-law he discovers a way to defeat Koschei... but he needs to walk through nine lands, cross a river of fire and trick the witch Baba Yaga. And he does all of it.
- Lucretia from The Adventure Zone is the anti-hero variety of this trope. She worked unrelentingly for a decade to almost single-handedly reverse the damage of the Grand Relics, protect her friends, and keep the Hunger away, although her methods were certainly questionable. This attitude and behavior are explained in the Stolen Century arc as being the result of a year she spent on the run from the Judges while they rest of her crew was imprisoned.
- The long haul trucker Narrator of Alice Isn't Dead is stubbornly persistent in her quest to find her wife Alice, to get an in-person explanation for the mysterious, Conspiracy-laden circumstances around Alice's disappearance, even though this search draws her into unwitting, unwilling encounters with the paranormal.
Narrator: I'll keep driving this truck. I'll keep wandering this country. I'm going to find you. I will.
- Starlee, host of Mystery Show, sticks with her cases until the very end. One of them even needs a Time Passes Montage in the middle, and her client teases her about it:
David: Maybe this is just your update where it's like, "I have no idea who Jake Gyllenhaal is, or how to measure human height. Just wanted to let you know I'm still plugging away!"
- Cassidy from Pokemon: Adventures in the Millennium. She's Belle's Eevee from her original Team Rocket team. After discovering that her trainer had left her at a Pokemon Centre due to feeling like she wasn't good enough to keep them, she tried to follow her across the world to the Sinnoh Region—and succeeded.
- Donkey Hodie of the show by the same name. She's not about to let some problem get in the way of something she wants or something she/she and her friends are doing, at least not for long. It's pretty much the whole point of the show, being an Edutainment Show with stated goals of teaching resilience and perseverance.
- DSBT InsaniT: Seth. In his own words; "Its gonna take more than an ass-kicking to kick my ass!"
- Dreamscape: Dylan keeps going even against nigh-unstoppable villains trying to bring about The End of the World as We Know It.
- Keela can be sent to an almost literal Hell, and she'll still stay strong.
- If you aren't a mook in the Madness Combat universe, you are automatically this trope. And while most of them are dead, they died hard. Some of them multiple times!
- Power Star gives us Luigi, depicted here as a valiant warrior who spends the majority of the series in pursuit of his hypnotized brother Mario and stopping him in his rampage. Even when the enemy far outnumbers him in power during the finale, Luigi still doesn't surrender and puts up one last duel with Devil Mario. Saying that he's a far cry from the cowardly video game character is a giant understatement, to put it lightly.
- Tifa Lockheart in the fan film series Dead Fantasy is an insanely awesome representation of this trope. Throughout five shorts, she has been slapped with an axe capable of downing a skyscraper, beaten to a bleeding pulp, which involved literally having the Materia knocked out of her, jumped onto a train, been slashed quite a few times, filled with arrows like it was target practice, stabbed through the arm, and chained up by kusarigama. It takes Hayate's intervention to finally stop her.
- Church of Red vs. Blue is basically this. He acts like he doesn't care and isn't very good at being The Hero, but if there's something he thinks has to be done, he never gives up until he accomplishes it. This goes as far as to him facing Wash and the Meta at the same time, after being shot, with just a pistol and Doc to help, after Tex is trapped in the memory unit in season 8. It doesn't work, but he still tried.
- RWBY, initially made as a cooperative project by the creators of two previous titles, features a number of these:
- Ruby is determined to make the world a better place for people to live in, no matter what kind of threat she's facing. During the Battle of Beacon, she is heavily outmatched by both Neo and Roman, but she doesn't falter. Even when Roman is beating her with his cane and ranting about her inability to accept the world is a dangerous place where heroes like her achieve nothing but an early death, she keeps standing back up. The world might be a cold, dark place, but Ruby refuses to give up; even when her team mates are forced by circumstance to quit the fight, she simply joins forces with Team JNPR and keeps on going. In Volume 6, her determination allowed her to save herself and her friends from a horde of Apathy Grimm who induced in them indifference and tiredness to the point of lethargy. Ruby activated her Silver Eyes and staved the Grimm off, allowing the party to come to their senses and flee from the location.
- Weiss also counts, if Blake describing her as the incarnation of 'defiance' is any indication. In her introductory short, she stood against an Arma Gigas and was wounded by it, but still came out on top. She had to endure years of cold, possessive, and often outright abusive treatment from her father, while her mother basically abandoned her duties and instead drank herself down to get away from her Awful Wedded Life. Weiss also watched her familial business, the Schnee Dust Company, driven into a 'moral grey area' by said father to satisfy his avarice. Although she had an opportunity to accept her father's actions and get a cushy position in the company, Weiss firmly decided to make a difference and recover the fame of the company upon taking control over it — and meanwhile, to contribute to the society as a Huntress. After returning to Atlas in Volume 4, she faced disapproval (to the point of being disinherited) by her father, mockery by her brother, and a lack of understanding by all Atlesian upper crust sans Ironwood — all of this only reinforcing her will to stand for what is right, reflected by her Image Song at the charity concert held by her father, "This Life Is Mine". Weiss left her home again for parts unknown, survived the crash of the plane she boarded to escape, was captured by Raven's tribe immediately after — but she still made it to reunite with her friends. Not even getting herself almost killed via Cinder impaling her with a fiery javelin — which she survived only thanks to Jaune's Traumatic Superpower Awakening — was enough to make her turn from her path.
- Deconstructed by Blake. When Blake finds out that Torchwick is working with the White Fang, she becomes obsessed with finding out they're up to and stopping it. Her determination becomes an obsession that takes a heavy toll on her grades, social life and health. Yang takes her to one side to tell her a story about how Yang's obsession with finding her birth mother almost got herself and Ruby killed at a young age. Yang has since mastered her desire and helps Blake to do the same. Blake eventually plays the trope straight when she saves Yang's life by picking up Yang's unconscious body and running despite having just suffered a vengeful beating and being stabbed in the abdomen. Something that eventually keeps going in future Volumes.
- Yang has been through A LOT to the point where she is one of the biggest Determinators in the series. There is little she hasn't been put through. Abandonment by her mother, the aforementioned near-death encounter when she tried to find her, public humiliation in front of the world, actual dismemberment and even more abandonment by almost everyone she remotely cared about in her life. While she ends up nearly crossing the Despair Event Horizon after Volume 3 (having suffered the most of the surviving characters from the Events), she still fights on, in spite of PTSD sets out into the World again to fight and protect her sister Ruby and their friends. Once this girl is in the game she won't quit, not even when she has to protect her partner from the man who took her arm even though she is struggling with a Panic attack while doing so. No wonder Blake sees her as the embodiment of strength. When in Volume 7 her sister broke down into Tender Tears from a painful memory of her mother, Yang was the first one to comfort her.
- This is Jaune Arc's greatest strength. He lacks any combat background, unlike the main cast, which makes him one of the weakest characters in the series. Even so, despite the visible gap of ability between Jaune and almost every opponent he encounters, he has never backed down from a fight and, once he engages, there's no way to intimidate him or make him give up. Pyrrha once comments that she's never met anyone with as much drive to better themselves as Jaune.
- Ozpin has been fighting Salem for thousands of years with seemingly no progress, but outright refuses to give up, putting his hope in humanity again and again no matter how often they fail; even his most loyal supporter, Qrow, criticizes his perpetual optimism. As he lives under a divine curse that prevents him truly dying until Salem is defeated, Salem cannot simply get rid of him by killing him. Instead, she states her plan is to destroy Ozpin's spirit through destroying all his hope for humanity's future. Ozpin has been tasked by the gods to unite humanity and prepare them for Judgement Day in an attempt to prove that humanity is capable of being redeemed. By dividing humanity and sowing chaos, Salem is making it impossible for Ozpin to fulfil his mission and, because she has been cursed with Complete Immortality, Ozpin cannot solve the problem by killing her. However, if the gods decide humanity is irredeemable, they will destroy the entire world. Humanity's survival therefore rests entirely on Ozpin's determination to keep going whatever the odds.
- General James Ironwood was revealed via Word of God to have this trait as a literal superpower. Named 'Mettle', it allows him to hyper-focus on his goals and strengthen his resolve, and lets him pulls off impressive feats like dragging his arm out of a Hard Light shield trap even though it badly burns him the whole way.
- Unfortunately Ironwoods Mettle turns out to be a Deconstruction. His Determination to save Atlas eventually consumes him, combined with his Paranoia of betrayal and fear of Salem, makes him go down a dangerous road. After finding out Team RWBY withheld information for him and talked with Robyn about the Amity Project, he declares RWBY and Co. Traitors and decides to abandon the rest of Remnant while only saving Atlas with the Staff of Creation. He than proceeds to shoot Oscar, the current incarnation of Ozpin, try to emotionally manipulate Penny into surrendering, execute a Council member when they disagree with him, plays with the idea of leveraging the lives of Yang, Ren and Jaune and ultimately threatens to Nuke Mantle with a Dust Bomb if they dont surrender, just so he can get his way. It ultimately ends with Atlas still falling, while Ironwood dies with it, none of his actions having saved a single person. Ironwood started with the best intentions but his determination to be the Hero in the War against Salem and refusal to cooperate with anyone who disagrees with him, not helped by Mettle influencing him, saw him commit greater and greater atrocities that all turned out to be All for Nothing.
- TP focuses on a toilet paper roll who's determined not to end up like his predecessors in the Disgusting Public Toilet he has found himself in. He spends a day and a night trying to escape from the hanger, and when Earl is about to rip some of his paper off, he finally manages to escape to the outside world, losing only a single square in the process.